Search

Vilfredo Pareto’s Theory of Elites

Pareto's theory of elites posits that society is always governed by a minority of individuals who possess the power and resources to rule.

Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian sociologist, economist, and philosopher, developed the theory of elites in the early 20th century. Pareto’s theory of elites posits that society is always governed by a minority of individuals who possess the power and resources to rule. According to Pareto, this ruling elite is divided into two groups: the “governing elite,” who actively make decisions and hold power, and the “non-governing elite,” who have potential to rule and may replace the governing elite under certain conditions.

Pareto argued that the circulation of elites—the process through which one elite group is replaced by another—is an inevitable phenomenon in any society. This occurs through a “circulation of elites” when the governing elite becomes decadent or fails to adapt to new conditions, allowing a more dynamic and capable elite group to take over.

His theory is grounded in a skeptical view of democratic governance, suggesting that even in democracies, real power is concentrated in the hands of a few. Pareto believed that no matter the form of government (democracy, monarchy, socialism), elite rule is a constant, with the primary difference being how the elites are selected and replaced.

Pareto’s theory is part of his broader sociological framework that includes the study of social cycles and the application of statistical methods to study society. His work on elites has influenced various fields, including political science, sociology, and economics, and has contributed to the development of elite theory, which examines the power dynamics and structures of elite groups in society.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More

Weekly Magazine

Get the best articles once a week directly to your inbox!